Monday, May 2, 2011

Sense and Sensibility

This Event Center process has been interesting to say the least. There are definitely four camps of thought and support regarding this major project.
A.   The No Camp
B.    The Just Build It-Who Cares Where Camp
C.    The Arena Convention Center Camp
D.   The Build It Downtown Camp.
Every camp has been vocal in their position, whether it is in person, online commenting on articles written in the ARGUS LEADER, comments posted on television stories through websites or Facebook pages, or blogs/comments. The exchange of ideas and public input is absolutely necessary to this process and should be welcomed, no matter what camp it comes from.
Small numbers of people actually attend Event Center Updates or public Q & A sessions. There is a huge group of voters out there who never comment, never go on the Internet, never email or call their councilor or mayor, and may never read the local paper. We know what the vocal minority wants. What does the silent majority want?
We have elected people to make the decision regarding whether the city should build an event center. They will have to decide if we can afford to build and operate an event center. And they will have to decide where the Event Center will be built if, in fact, we can afford to build and operate it.
Elected officials get lobbied regarding various public issues. What has been going on with this project is just that – lobbying... lobbying through the Internet, face to face meetings, and public meetings.   
The time is finally approaching where it will be in the city council’s hands and that decision(s) will be made through a majority vote of the council. The city council will ultimately decide whether we vote on this issue at all. If we get to vote, I wonder what the ballot will actually look like.   I wish the mayor and the city council had framed this issue differently and made some crucial decisions upfront.
We got a glimpse of where the councilors were at on this whole issue in the  Argus Leader.  At least there are some councilors who have the big picture at hand. It's all about the finances, what debt are we willing to carry forward, and what are we going to have to give up.
All this rhetoric about who is right and who is wrong is growing to a frenzy. People are frustrated and angry and impatient. The debate can go on forever. I wish we had used sense and sensibility in the beginning and talked and debated the financing of the project.
Then the public could have made the decision if they wanted an event center and where it should be built.


  1. When you look at our AECOM report and it's tables showing the economic impact, you'll see at the bottom they are using info from 3 sources: SMG, Global Spectrum, and AECOM.

    When you look at a similar report that Phoenix commissioned last year studying the economic impact of their Convention Center, they source the following: Hunt (General Contractor), City of Phoenix Engineering & Architectural Services, Phoenix Convention Center, IMPLAN, and AECOM.

    What's IMPLAN? A software program that uses state level data from 528 industrial sectors and examines the way they interact with each other. This allows them to "quantify the effects of adding jobs or final demand in any industry".

    SOOOOOO, why would we base our assumption on going from virtually zero flat floor conventions and trade shows to 34 a year without talking to our own CVB or using a software program to estimate the final demand they way they do in other places? Seems kinda convenient they only went off SMG & Globals estimates, especially since those two firms are vying for the new contract to run the whole enchilada.

    In other words, we are going off a sales pitch.

  2. The Council is going to keep approving Huether's request for more and more study money and then this is going to come up for a vote and get voted down. A pat on the back to Jamison and Brown who voted no to another bucket of money for the mayor's vision. The only two who are thinking about the money.

  3. We all heard the economic growth spin when the Convention Center was built. Jono's was going to become a 5 star restaurant and on and on. What happened? Nothing. Heck, one restaurant out there has changed hands three times in that time period. And that is what will happen no matter where this place is built. Pure and simple the people pushing college and pro sports want something newer to host tournaments and all star games.

    Most people coming to a single concert/event, come to the event and go home. Afterwards they stop for a Big Mac and gas to get them home.

    There will be no more multiday "business" conventions in these facilities. The DT Holiday Inn and the Ramkota get most of those now anyway. Check the SF Convention Center calendar. Nothing on there for months. The stuff they do have generates little if any overnight visitors.

    You may have heard about this little project across the border called Grand Falls Casino. That is where out-of-town visitor multiday "business" conventions will be held. They will be very aggressive in getting that business.